Blood on Her Name begins immediately after a catalyst: There’s a body of a man on the ground – his head bludgeoned as he bleeds to death, and a disheveled woman standing over him. This woman, Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) has just set into motion events that will change not only her life, but the lives of those around her. As time passes, Leigh gets increasingly more panicked, and instead of calling the police, conceals the crime and plans on disposing of the body. Things become more complicated when the – now dead – man’s son calls his father’s cell phone, searching for him. This event causes Leigh to spiral with guilt, as music broods in the background, letting us know that what just occurred will unfurl into something even worse.
By dropping the audience right into the fray, tension is immediately ignited. Leigh’s anxiety and guilt become almost too much to bear, as we watch her make mistake after mistake – all the while trying to outrun demons that have latched on to her before the film began. At times, a dead body seems to be the least of Leigh’s concerns: her son – Ryan (Jared Ivers) is on parole, his father is in jail, Leigh’s business is falling apart, and she’s also concerned about the toxic relationship blooming between her father – Richard (Will Patton) and Ryan. With all these things causing a strain on her life, the death of the man she killed and the despair that follows it, threatens to consume her.
The film is tight and suffocating, but the most impressive aspect is Bethany Anne Lind’s performance as Leigh. Lind masterfully portrays a woman struggling to bottle up her emotions for the sake of those around her, only to succumb to them in the worst ways, fracturing the few stable relationships she has. At the center of the film is the bond between mother-and-son and father-and-daughter. Leigh wants the best for Ryan, but with her business in trouble and now a potential murder charge, she can’t fathom what her son’s life could look like without her in it. Her relationship with her father is also an interesting one: Leigh see’s apparitions of her past self throughout the film, a past self who has seen an atrocity that appears to be inclined with the one she had just committed. Her paranoia forces her to view her father as a parasite that will infiltrate Ryan’s vulnerability and dismember her life like it appears he did to her as a child. Lind portrays Leigh with no apologies where guilt weaves into grief and fear, morphing into the worst kind of anger.
Blood On Her Name, is an intriguing thriller where every decision a character makes matters. The way the film deals with morality and familial relationships are what allow it to be more than a generic film you would see on cable television at 9pm. It pulls no punches and allows its main character to be messy, explosive and flawed. Her mistakes dig her deeper and deeper until it feels like there is nothing left for her to do but dig a bit more. Towards the end of the film Leigh tells her son “Some things just can’t be undone,” and that’s where the film succeeds. Everything in Leigh’s life happens to get her somewhere else or to get someone to her; there are no coincidences and second chances. It’s tense and heavy, with Leigh’s paranoia and the heat of the sun simmering through the screen. With Blood On Her Name, Matthew Pope has crafted a solid debut that begins and ends with a shocking bang, and paints a picture of a frenzied woman trying to right her wrongs.